The Archdiocese of Boston Clergy Health and Retirement Trust is offering wellness seminars for priests. Several of them strike us as odd, and risk working against the spiritual wellness of Catholic priests. Then there is the matter of the struggling Clergy Fund.
Centering Prayer Workshop
One of them is in June 2016 in Duxbury offered by Rev Meninger OCSO on the New Age practice of Centering Prayer. Of course, one of the big problems is that Centering Prayer actually is not a “prayer” and it is not even Christian. It originated with Abbot Thomas Keating at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, but its origins are a pagan practice and it’s more like a form of self-hypnosis.
Authentic Christian prayer and meditation stem from contact with God. Proponents of centering prayer claim prayer centers in one’s being, as opposed to what prayer should be–namely, a conversation with God from the center of our souls. Read this excellent piece, The Danger of Centering Prayer which clearly articulates how Centering Prayers exercises are “at the level of human faculties and as such are an operation of man, not of God. The deception and dangers can be grave.”
As reported by Catholic Culture, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of’ the Faith under then-Cardinal Ratzinger warned about the dangers of blending Christian prayer and Eastern methods of meditation (e.g., Zen, Transcendental Meditation and yoga). Although Some Aspects of Christian Meditation does not single out any persons or schools of thought by name, many of its warnings apply to the centering- prayer literature, including the writings of Abbot Keating and his spiritual disciple Father Basil Pennington, O.C.S.O. Both have backgrounds in Eastern meditation methods and cite those experiences favorably as instructive for today’s Christians.
Cardinal Ratzinger warned about methods which “try as far as possible to put aside everything that is worldly, sense perceptible, or conceptually limited.” An approach of this sort to prayer may actually be “an attempt to ascend to or immerse oneself in the sphere of the divine, which as such is neither terrestrial, sense perceptible nor capable of conceptualization.” Besides the temptation to reject the material world in this approach there is another problem-indicated by Cardinal Ratzinger’s use of the word “oneself” in the last quote-the temptation to ascend to God by one’s own power or strength. In fact it is God’s choice, not ours, whether we enter the sphere of the divine. “God is free to ’empty’ us of all that holds us back …. to draw us completely into the Trinitarian life of his eternal love,” but this gift is granted “not through our own efforts.
Time Management, facilitated by a Protestant Minister
In April there is a session at our Lady Help of Christians in Newton offered by a Rev. Nancy Foran–she is a minister in the United Church of Christ and pastor at Raymond Village Community Church in Maine, and specializes in Myers-Briggs. Can we not find any Catholics in Boston who are good at managing time to lead such a session? The brochure can be found below:
Who picks these sessions?!
As BCI has mentioned previously, the Clergy Fund is adding nothing to the rapidly depleting reserves–what is collected at Christmas, Easter, Assessments, September Collection and Annual Priest Appreciation Dinner goes directly to pay annual expenses. With more clergy retiring, that means increasing retirement and medical expenses, and that means reserves get tapped to pay those expenses.
Other that that, Boston is doing a good job taking care of clergy.